St Bega's church on the banks of Bassenthwaite Lake, Cumbria

St. Bega’s church resounding once again to Baroque music; David Gibbs bringing the delights of Buxtehude, Telemann and JS Bach’s music to this ancient lakeside venue dating from around 950 AD. An appreciative audience, filling the pews and outnumbering the sheep in the field outside where the cars parked, heard a rich programme of excitingly chromatic pieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the programme arranged in a symmetric format from Buxtehude to Bach and back again. Magdalena Loth-Hill (violin) and David Gibbs (harpsichord) finished the first part of the programme with an excellent performance of J.S. Bach’s Sonata BWV 1014, their ensemble and interplay fluidly throwing the counterpoint challenges between the players as the piece developed.

Saturday lunchtime’s organ recital (on St. Bega’s electronic instrument) was an exploration of the Ground Bass. As well as one of Buxtehude’s Praeludium, Fuge & Ciacona, we heard one of the other of Pachelbel’s canons; as relief from keyboard counterpoint, David Gibbs was joined by Anne-Marie Kerr (soprano) for two arias, the latter including a sparkling and extended Hallelujah with her voice playing over the ground bass of the accompaniment.
The lunchtime recital ended with J.S. Bach’s celebrated Passacaglia and Fugue BWV582 which was great to hear in the old church but to my ear the shill tone of the electronic organ and the precise acoustic of the small building didn’t do justice to his performance.

Saturday evening’s choral concert, given by the entire Ensemble Buxtehude in the larger sandstone building of St John’s Church, Bassenthwaite, presented two arias by Buxtehude followed after the interval by an unknown piece which seems to have inspired J.S. Bach’s Passions (of St Matthew and St John). Reinhard Keiser’s large-scale Markuspassion is academically interesting and many of its 29 numbers were individually intriguing. However it lacks the sparkle, variety and sheer joy of Bach’s masterpieces. Ensemble Buxtehude are to be congratulated on their enthusiastic and faithful performance of this curiosity.

Sadly, this the twelfth Bassenthwaite Festival seems likely to have been the last, it will be missed.

See also Dido & Aeneas: Bassenthwaite Festival 2015

Bassenthwaite Festival 2017

Friday 2nd June 2017, St. Bega’s church

Trio Sonata in F major for Violin, Cello and Harpsichord, Op.2, No. 7; Dietrich Buxtehude
Fantasia No. 8 in A major for Viol seza basso, TWV 40:33; Georg Philipp Telemann
Ciacona in C minor for Organ, BusWV 159; Dietrich Buxtehude
Sonata in B minor for Violin & Harpsichord, BWV 1014, Johann Sebastian Bach
Sonata in G major for Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord, BWV 1027, Johann Sebastian Bach
Ciacona in E minor for Organ, BusWV 160; Dietrich Buxtehude
Fantasia No. 1 in B flat major for Violin seza basso, TWV 40:14; Georg Philipp Telemann
Trio Sonata in A major for Violin, Cello and Harpsichord, Op.2, No. 5; Dietrich Buxtehude

Magdalena Loth-Hill (violin)
Ed Pendrous (cello)
David Gibbs (harpsichord and organ)

Saturday 3rd June 2017, St. Bega’s church

Praeludium, Fuge & Ciacona in C major, BuxWV 137; Dietrich Buxtehude
Passacalia in D minor, BuxWV 161; Dietrich Buxtehude
Ciacona in F major; Johann Pachelbel
Music for a While (from Oedipus); Henry Purcell
An Evening Hymn, Z. 193; Henry Purcell
Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor, BWV 582; Johann Sebastian Bach
Anne-Marie Kerr (soprano), David Gibbs (harpsichord and organ)

Saturday 3 June, 7.30 pm St John’s Church, Bassenthwaite

“Jesu, meines Lebens Leben”, BuxWV 62; Dietrich Buxtehude
“Eins bitte ich vom Herrn”, BuxWV 24; Dietrich Buxtehude
Markuspassion (St Mark Passion); Reinhard Keiser (1674 - 1739)
Ensemble Buxtehude, director David Gibbs